Mary-Ellen's Valentine Fringe Dress

Mary-Ellen's Valentine Fringe Dress

When Jenny shared the Valentine’s collection from Fabric Godmother, I fell for the ‘Swooning Heart’ print instantaneously; I cannot resist a classic black and red heart print. What made it even more appealing was that it was printed on Ecovero crepe. One of the reasons I began sewing was to curate a more sustainable wardrobe, so I am drawn to fabrics like Ecovero viscose, tencel and modal.

Ecovero is a more sustainable form of viscose that is made from sustainable wood sourced from controlled sources instead of bamboo or eucalyptus, which is commonly used in normal viscose production, making it natural and renewable. The benefits of Ecovero fibre include sustainability (it uses 50% lower emissions and water impact that generic viscose), being biodegradable (no need to worry about landfill, not that you’ll end up sending your me-made garments there, anyhow), soft to the touch and gentle on the skin.

That this fabric is a crepe is also worth noting as many people are unsure what crepe actually is; basically, crepe is woven a certain way to create a ripple-like texture. What makes it unique to other weaves is that the yarn is made by hard twisting, much more so than other fabrics. The yarns are woven alternating between a S and Z twist, and this is what gives crepe the famous crepe "bounce" – ‘Swooning Hearts’ really is a beautiful feeling fabric; it has substance but also the drape that makes it such a perfect dressmaking fabric.

When sewing with this fabric, I do have a few tips and techniques worth sharing: 

  • Always prewash as it will shrink, and you don’t want to risk spending a lot of time and effort on a garment if it is not going to fit after washing.
  • Pre-iron your fabric – with a fabric like this, there is a likelihood of wrinkling in the wash and after ironing so always iron before cutting into it to ensure the fit of the garment is spot on.
  • Take care if you are pinning this fabric to cut as it is liable to snag – always keep your pins within the seam allowance or you could even use pattern weights and a rotary cutter if you find the fabric too slippery.
  • Use a new, sharp needle – a 80/12 or 70/10 would also be a good choice or, if you can, pick up some microtex needles.
  • Do not skip staystitching necklines and curves as the fabric is prone to stretching and you want to make sure your pieces line up perfectly.
  • You will want to make sure to finish your seams, again due to the liability of the crepe to fray.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

I decided to make the Chalk and Notch Fringe dress with this fabric for a couple of reasons.

Being two months postpartum, my body still has not found equilibrium and I wanted to make a garment that I will be able to wear indefinitely without having to do arduous alterations on several months or a year down the line.

With a 2-month-old baby Henry in tow, we will be having much more casual celebration for Valentine’s this year. The Fringe Dress looks smart while being quite casual and easy to wear and style for any occasion.

The Fringe pattern is a woven dress and blouse with two views. View A has a button up front, elbow sleeve and sleeve tab. View B has a pull over, notched front with a cuff. Both views include two cup sizes in sizes 0-30, optional waist ties, and the sleeve/cuffs are interchangeable.

The dress is designed to be made with a light to medium weight woven fabric so this Ecovero crepe is a perfect choice. I’ve previously made this dress in double gauze and tencel ramie, all of which give a very different feel to the dress. Having made this dress before, you’d be forgiven for thinking this was a straightforward make for me, but my postpartum measurements are totally different to what they were when I first made this pattern (particularly at the bust thanks to nursing) so it was back to the drawing board for me. Now, thankfully, most of the work is done in this department by the fact that it is drafted for a A/B and C/D cup – while I am usually a dressmaking F cup, there is enough ease in this pattern that I only had to perform a ½” FBA. There is quite a lot of ease built throughout the pattern so, depending on how much ease you prefer (or do not prefer), you may get away with sizing down in this pattern from where your measurements place you on the chart.

This pattern is really well drafted – other than the FBA, I made no modifications to it. The fact that the dress has ties which can be inserted into the back darts or side seams and the style of the sleeves make it easy to fit and a pretty straightforward sew. While the pattern is geared towards intermediate sewists, there is no reason why an adventurous beginner cannot take this on; I was a beginner sewist when I first made it. The instructions are incredibly clear and well written, too, so I would have no hesitation recommending this pattern to beginners. It isn’t the fastest sew but it comes together quite easily. One change I made (not fitting related) was to widen the ties a little; because this fabric is liable to fray, I made it a little wider to make it easier to turn out and also to make it easier to edgestitch the ties. 


The pattern has very thin ties that are a nightmare to edge stitch but I detest ironing thin ties back into shape when they come out of the laundry cycle and edge-stitching makes this process much quicker.


Chalk and Notch Fringe Dress (PDF Only)

There are so many lovely features to this pattern. I love the neckline, the cuffed dolman sleeves, the sleeve tab and the curved hem (however, I fancied a straight hem for this version to make the evening of the hem straightforward, so I evened out the pattern piece and cut accordingly). And it has pockets, of course. Even if the pattern didn’t call for pockets, I’m pretty sure I would have added them. It is the perfect dress for a casual Valentine’s lunch but, aside from that, it’ll be a garment I reach for often as it will be easily styled for any occasion.

There is no shortage of beautiful fabrics at Jenny Stitches that would be perfect for this pattern; the new cotton lawn, viscose, and double gauze fabrics would be perfect.

Inspired to make your own version? Here's what you will need:

Fabric Godmother Swooning hearts viscose crepe

View the rest of the Fabric Godmother Valentine Collection here

[DisclosureMary-Ellen was provided with the materials for her project free of charge and received a gift voucher in recognition of the time spent on her project.]

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1 comment

Lovely dress and informative blog! I want to sew one now. Thank you!

Cynthia Tennant

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